I suppose two years into a pandemic isn’t really the ideal time to share my holy grail moisturiser for very dry skin – but better late than never, right? The thing is, this product was first recommended to me by my dad, who had the driest hands of anyone I’ve ever known, and every time I thought about writing about writing this blog post, I would think of him, feel sad and then not want to write anything anymore. Not sure what it is about today, but I finally feel like I can get it done – so if you’re currently suffering from unbearably dry hands, whether pandemic related or not, today is your lucky day.
Aveeno Skin Relief Lotion has completely saved my skin on more occasions than I can count. In harsh winters my hands would previously get to the point of splitting from being so dry, and ever since I was young I’ve been plagued by rough red patches on my skin all year long. I genuinely think at this point that I’ve tried every product in existence – from steroid creams to natural oils and prescription emollients, but the only thing that consistently gives me relief is this miracle product. An unassuming, medium-thickness, fragrance-free cream, it sinks in after just a few seconds of massaging – which is really impressive for a product as nourishing and moisturising as this one. When used on dry skin, it sinks in wonderfully well, and when used on irritated skin, the soothing power is simply incredible. While on the surface it might just look like any other body lotion, this one really is different, and that’s for a few reasons…
Firstly, let’s talk about the oat ingredients in the formulation – oat flour, oat extract and oat oil combine to help protect, soothe and calm the skin. Irritation is an immune response – it’s your body noticing that the skin has been compromised in some way, and increasing blood-flow to the area to supply white blood cells to fight off potential threats. Protective skincare products are applied at this stage because once the skin realises it is protected, it will send a message to the body that the immune system can stand down because things are under control – and then the skin’s incredible healing processes can get to work repairing the area, beneath the protective umbrella of the skincare product. The reason that oats are so effective at soothing dry skin is surprisingly simple – oat binds to the skin, creating a natural protective barrier. No product actually ‘heals’ the skin – all they do is create that protective barrier on the skin so that it can heal itself, and oat is one of the most effective ingredients for doing that. There are many different compounds in oat that help the skin, such as beta-glucan, fatty acids and avenanthramides, which are anti-inflammatory agents, and Aveeno’s combination of three different types of oat ingredients ensures that those compounds are delivered as effectively and in as high concentrations as possible.
The formulation also has a pre-biotic effect, meaning it supports a healthy bacterial ecosystem on the skin’s surface. Pre-biotics have been shown to help soothe and calm the skin by increasing the population of ‘good’ bacteria. Many of the cosmetic products we use daily – shower gels, serums, lotions and so on, can destroy the microbiome because they contain powerful preservatives to keep them stable once opened – but those preservatives also kill bacteria when applied to your skin, thus affecting your microbiome, and inhibiting your skin’s ability to protect itself, leading to dryness and irritation. It’s a bit like how when you take antibiotics you’re supposed to introduce a probiotic into your diet, because the bacterial imbalance created by the medicine can wreak havoc on your body’s ability to digest food. Aveeno Skin Relief uses potassium sorbate to keep the product safe and useable, which is a totally different kettle of fish to the cheaper, more mainstream preservatives – it’s actually food safe, and is used in all kinds of food and drink as well as high-quality, skin friendly cosmetic products. Several years ago I started using facial skincare products with potassium sorbate, and the difference it made was extraordinary, so it made sense that a hand and body product preserved in the same way would be just as good.
TAKE MY WORD FOR IT
It’s all well and good me explaining the science behind the product, but let me give you some examples of a few specific times when Aveeno Skin Relief has saved my skin.
My dad was admitted to a palliative care ward for two months in the middle of the pandemic, and while I was in and out of the hospital visiting him, my hand washing habit (which was already a bit over the top before the pandemic) reached a new level of extreme. But my hands didn’t just get dry – it got a bit scary to be honest. They’d do this thing where they turned bright red, the skin was stretched, my fingers would swell up, and my palms would get hot and itch. Aveeno Skin Relief Lotion was the only thing I tried that actually helped. I was getting so scared because I started to think my hands were beyond repair – they were so uncomfortable that it hurt to use them, an added stress that I could have really done without at the time. No other product worked – I tried so many different ones. And then I picked up the bottle of this miracle lotion – the instant soothing effect was incredible, and so I kept using it. Before long, the reaction totally stopped happening.
When I first started taking my antidepressant, I broke out in a rash. This is apparently normal as long as it doesn’t become too severe, but it was uncomfortable. Teeny tiny red bumps from my neck down to my belly button – hot, itchy and very annoying. I slathered myself in Aveeno Skin Relief Lotion, and while it’s impossible to say whether it was my body adjusting to the medicine, or the product getting to work, the rash was immediately soothed and gone the next day.
Sometimes, I get dermatitis around my eyes. This can be from using unsuitable skincare products, but it also happens when I’ve been crying. Yes, my ridiculously sensitive skin is allergic to my own tears – causing bumpy redness and irritation. A thin layer of Aveeno Skin Relief Lotion takes care of this very nicely – which I’ll be forever grateful for because, to be blunt, the last thing you need when someone you love dies is an allergic reaction to your own grief.
My last example is about a different product from the same range – Aveeno Skin Relief Cica Balm. I hadn’t found much use for the Balm before this happened because every other problem I’d had was solved with the Lotion, but my god did it save me from a situation here. A few weeks ago, I woke up with an absolutely horrible irritation under one of my breasts – bright red, unbearably itchy and really distressing because it felt like the skin was ripping – and when I looked closer, I was horrified to see tiny little tear wounds along the area of irritation. It must have been some kind of contact dermatitis from the bra I had been wearing, because it was in a crescent shape on my chest, directly underneath the breast. Anyway, after I was done staring at it in horror in the mirror, I realised the Aveeno Skin Relief Cica Balm was on my bathroom shelf so I grabbed it and applied a thin layer. The effect was so wonderfully soothing – the painful itch started to abate immediately, and within a couple of days it was totally back to normal. I wish I could remember which bra I had been wearing so I can set it on fire, but at least I know if it happens again I’ll have a solution!
Aveeno Skin Relief Lotion comes in two different sizes – a 300ml pump bottle which costs £7.99, and a 200ml tube for £5.99 on Boots.com – they seem to be more expensive on other websites which is strange, but I suppose it’s each website’s choice. The Cica Balm is £6.99 for 50ml (remember that it’s a more concentrated formula), and when I was on Boots getting the links to share I realised they also have a Shampoo and a Body Wash in the Skin Relief line too! I’ll definitely be trying both of those soon. The Body Wash is £9.99 for 500ml, and the Shampoo is £9.99 for 300ml. You can also shop the full range of Skin Relief products here. This range is in my opinion extremely well priced – for the quality of the products and how little you need to use, I’m consistently impressed by the incredible value. I hope you have as much luck with it as I have!